Wildly engaging and deeply emotional story about one such fictional Chef.
R | 100 min | Comedy, Drama
Review - Matt Mungle
**In theaters October 30, 2015**
Synopsis: A chef who destroyed his career with drugs and diva behavior cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars.
Review: Some of the more entertaining reality competition shows revolve around the world of professional chefs. They are full of personalities with inflated egos, intense obsessive natures, and an inherent need to succeed at any cost. BURNT is a film that takes all of those elements, amps them up by ten, and offers us a wildly engaging and deeply emotional story about one such fictional Chef.
Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) has been off the culinary radar for years. Many of his associates and friends figure him to be dead or strung out somewhere in a drunken stupor. Jones was one of the most talented and respected Chefs in Paris before falling off the grid. He had already earned two Michelin stars; a feat few ever obtain. When he returns, clean and sober, determined to give it a go once more he has lots to prove; especially to himself. He hand picks a gang of kitchen mates, takes over a faltering London restaurant, and begins his climb back to the top.
This is Cooper's best performance since 2012's SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and should easily garner him an Oscar nod. Jones goes from zero to sixty on the emotion-ometer in seconds and brings a high level of intensity to the kitchen and to his own desire for perfection. Those around him fear him but at the same time stand in admiration of his abilities. Cooper harnesses this rage and expertly brandishes it in each rant. There is no doubt that those in the culinary world have the toughest skin of any profession. Adam lashes out in tyrannical fits of rage at the smallest overlooked detail. It is no wonder the food in high end restaurants is so expensive. The overhead to replace all the smashed plates from crazed chefs must be astronomical.
If this film were wall to wall high pressure drama it would be a bit too much to swallow. BURNT mixes this in with some softer and even endearing scenes of Adam when he is not in the heat of the moment. It makes perfect use of Cooper's pretty boy charm and flirtatious mannerisms. You like him and he manages to get you to care for Jones as well. This is a talented guy trying to overcome some bad decisions. Yes he drives his employees with fury but you sort of understand. They do not seem to mind so why should the audience. The supporting cast rally around Cooper and create a well-oiled ensemble. Sienna Miller, Omar Sy, Sam Keeley, and Daniel Brühl each create differing personalities all with the same goal; help Jones get the star. One must assume that like most upscale kitchens this is how things are done and the atmosphere seems very believable.
Foodies will appreciate the attention to the art of plating and the style at which the dishes are created. There are many culinary references and behind the scene discussions that shed a bit of light on what goes in to a nights service. The pressure is extreme and the competition with other chefs is undeniable. Especially when a Michelin star is on the line. One bad review and it is all over. You get the feeling that these guys are one bad plate away from losing their minds completely.
BURNT is rated R for language throughout. Chefs use the F word like butter. It is the liquid in which all sentences are sautéed. So be prepared for a lot of out bursts and volatile expletives. There is a tad bit of violence but nothing else even close to objectionable material. This is a solidly written, quick edited, and expertly directed film. The acting elevates it even higher. I give it 3.75 out of 5 opening nights. Loved Cooper in this role and the TOP CHEF fan in me appreciated the story and peek inside the kitchen.